For the first few months of my newborn's life, when I was on maternity leave and had little to consume my attention except the needs of my brand-new baby, there wasn't a distinction between day and night. I couldn't count on a daily rhythm or routine at all. During the constant nursing, changing, swaddling, and crying (mostly mine), I was usually consumed with self-doubt. But in between the times I felt that motherhood just wasn't clicking, there were glimpses of hope. There were actually so many times during my maternity leave that I didn't want to end.
Maybe you're thinking, "Well, of course you didn't want your maternity leave to end! It's a paid baby vacation and you get to snuggle a cute baby all day!" But I need to be real about something: Babies don't give you a lot when they first arrive. They're sometimes demanding, or angry, or kind of distant, watching you through murky vision as if they weren't quite sure they were in the right place. It's honestly a very good thing they are so adorable and fragrant. If they weren't so cute, we would easily get frustrated at the lopsided nature of our relationship.
But then, just when you're either too bored or too frustrated to stand it, they do something — hold your gaze, or gum your nose, or respond to you with a squeal — and you feel this swell of love that nobody will ever be able to describe accurately. No matter the length of your maternity leave (and if you're in the U.S., it's probably brief), you hoard these tiny gestures, collecting incredible memories for when you need to draw upon their joy. As your return-to-work date looms, you don't take for granted a second of your time with this tiny new roommate. And there are some moments when you wish your maternity leave could last forever.
When They Really See You And Smile
And you know it's not gas.
When You're Snuggling Them After A Bath
Before they have a chance to soil the third outfit of the day. Bliss.
When You Take Them Out For Coffee
And they actually sit there and let you drink it without needing anything from you for a whole 20 minutes.
When People Oooh And Aaah Over Your Little Human
And you think: "I made this."
When The Baby's Nap Stretches To Three Hours
And you feel entitled to watch that many more episodes of Casual.
When Your Partner, Or Mom, Or Friend Asks What They Can Get You
Because if there's one time you can guiltlessly get people to do things for you, it's right now.
When You've Finally Reached Inbox Zero
After unsubscribing from all those pregnancy newsletters.
When Both Of You Drift Off To Sleep After A Feeding Session
And neither of you has to pee!
When You Can Decline Any Event Without Worrying About Disappointing Anyone
You get a free pass to turn down parties, talks, book club meetings, open mic nights, or anything you wouldn't want to do even if you didn't have a kid, and nobody will throw shade.
When You Have All The Time In The World To Stare At That Little Face
You can't screw anything up at this very moment. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Images: Romper; Giphy(10)